When a con artist calls

Published 10:34 am Monday, April 3, 2017

Just last week we cautioned readers to be aware of tax-related scams, the kind where people call saying they’re with the Treasury or IRS and then demand money for overdue taxes. Just hang up because both agencies don’t go collecting their overdue taxes over the phone.

Now we feel the need to warn of another game, one that seems to pop up from time to time. Con artists are nothing if not relentless.

On Friday, a local resident called us to say that a man phoned her trying to pass himself off as her child and claiming to be in trouble. Although the voice was somewhat close to that of her son, she soon began to detect differences, such as an unusual accent — think Northern. In trying to get more information from him, the caller was eventually tripped up and immediately hung up cursing.

The resident asked we alert people to this type of scam, and we’re glad to help with a few suggestions:

• When someone calls or emails claiming to be your child, grandchild, another relative or friend, be sure you verify identity if you’re unsure.

• If threatened, hang up and notify the police or sheriff’s department.

• If the caller sounds rushed or even pushy, stay calm and instead press them for details.

• Consider establishing a password or catch phrase that only you and the relative/friend would know.

• Never give over the phone any personal information such as bank account, credit card and, of course, Social Security numbers. A relative in trouble with the police isn’t getting out via a call and a VISA number.